Open Knowledge Exchange and Sharing

We need to talk about Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects #tbim2016


ThinkBIM Design and Pre Construction 2016

Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects

Wednesday 2nd November, Leeds

17:30 for registration, 18:00 to 20:00

We all know that in order to ‘do’ BIM you need to work in accordance with BS1192:2007 + A2:2016 but how well do we all really know how to use this standard? This event is focussed around getting to grips with the apparently complex container numbering, understanding the purpose of issue and suitability codes as well as explaining who/who/how is a Common Data Environment.

We are pleased to announce our first two speakers; John Adams, Head of BIM Services at BIM Strategy Ltd and Lee Chappelow, BIM Operations Manager at SES Engineering Services.

A back-to-basics event to explain/remind/help our network understand how to work collaboratively.

Remember – if your business can do Level 1 then you can work on a Level 2 project.

We need to talk about Level 1. Are you getting the BIM basics right? Find out at #tbim2016 on 2nd Nov!

Room 538, Lecture Theatre D, 5th Floor, The Rose Bowl, Leeds, LS1 3HB

Click here to book your place! 


#BIMOpenMic is coming up North!


BIM North West & Yorkshire Regions in collaboration with Graitec, BDP, Digitalgreen and thinkBIM present… #BIMOpenMic – Manchester

Thursday 24th November 2016

BDP Offices, 11 Ducie Street, Manchester, M1 2JB, 

18:00 to 21:00

We are delighted to announce that following the success of the London sessions, #BIMOpenMic is coming up North! #BIMOpenMic nights are about starting conversations and generating discussion about all things BIM and helping address the day to day issues it presents in our work.

So join us on 24th November at BDP Offices in Manchester and give us your observations, opinions, rants, tips and tricks at our “anything goes” session. Be there and be vocal!

Many thanks to our hosts BDP and event sponsors Graitec for helping us to put this session together.


thinkBIM is five!



The year is 2011, 2 billion people around the world have watched Will and Kate say ‘I do’, Azerbaijan have just won Eurovision, Little Mix were about to be unleashed into the world and in a quiet corner of Leeds thinkBIM was being born…

This September, thinkBIM is 5 years old and to mark the occasion we have decided to host a networking birthday bash to say thank you to all our friends and supporters who have joined us on our journey. As well as a chance to network with #UKBIMcrew there will be great food, cake, drink and hospitality with a few surprises thrown in too!

And of course no thinkBIM party would be complete without#BIMbeers and #BIMbubbles!

Completely free to attend – please click here to register your attendance for catering purposes

Many thanks to our good friends at Cubicle Centre for very kindly sponsoring our birthday party!


#tbim2016 returns in Autumn -> featuring BIM & Health, Getting Level 1 right & our half day “roundtable special” conference


thinkBIM Autumn Series

Design and Pre Construction


7th September 2016, Squire Patton Boggs, Leeds, 17:30 onwards 

The UK Level 2 BIM strategy is 5 years old – thinkBIM is 5 years old too. Come along to celebrate this landmark with the original and best BIM knowledge exchange network. With networking, cake and #BIMbeers #BIMbubbles it’s the hottest ticket in town!


5th October 2016, The Rosebowl, Leeds, 17:30 onwards

Delivering on the Level 2 mandate – digital healthcare

With the Level 2 BIM Mandate stretch target expected to be announced two days before this twilight seminar we are pleased to have a set of speakers sharing the benefits of doing Level 2 BIM for a centrally procured department.

We are pleased to announce Cliff Jones, P21+ Programme Manager at the Department of Health and David Kershaw, P21+ Programme Director at Balfour Beatty Regional will be sharing the benefits and lessons learnt of moving the P21+ programme into an age of procuring digital and physical assets.


2nd November 2016, The Rosebowl, Leeds, 17:30 onwards

Level 1 – the critical foundations to delivering on digital projects

A back-to-basics event to explain/remind/help our network understand how to work collaboratively.

We all know that in order to ‘do’ BIM you need to work in accordance with BS1192:2007 + A2:2016 but how well do we all really know how to use this standard. This event is focussed around getting to grips with the apparently complex container numbering, understanding the purpose of issue and suitability codes as well as explaining who/how/what is a Common Data Environment. Remember – if your business can do Level 1 then you can work on a Level 2 project.


7th December 2016, Squire Patton Boggs, Leeds, 12:30 onwards

Our case study focussed half day conference

We know from your feedback that the round table sessions are what make thinkBIM such a unique and great event so we are looking to amend our format to give you more opportunities at this conference to participate in round table sessions.

The focus will be on real projects working digitally and the teams working on them hosting the sessions.

This will be a great opportunity to find out how the industry is really doing BIM, see how your peers are responding to the challenges and understand what your customers want from you too.

A not to be missed opportunity to upskill your digital knowledge.


Only £110 for all four events – click here to book!

Tickets for individual events can also be booked at the link above EXCEPT for our 7th Sept event which should be booked via the link on our website here




BIM for FM – still not quite there….

Paul Wilkinson

Guest post by Paul Wilkinson, thinkBIM ambassador and Director, Ltd

ThinkBIM focused on FM, and provided detailed pointers to FM professionals on both how to get involved with BIM, and why it makes commercial sense.

The latest ThinkBIM half-day conference (on 6 July at Squire Patton Boggs new offices in Leeds, and sponsored by Trimble and GroupBC) looked, once again, at the use of building information modelling by those working in facilities management, operations and maintenance for owner-operator organisations, and yet – on a show of hands – only a small handful of attendees were actually employed in FM. The day therefore repeatedly returned to what government and industry needs to do to get more FM professionals engaged with BIM.


The business case for BIM has been well made by the UK Government’s BIM Task Group since 2011, and regular ThinkBIM keynote speaker Deborah Rowland (currently director of FM at the Ministry of Justice) has been at the forefront in pushing the BIM for FM message in the public sector, citing Government Soft Landings (GSL). She underlined how asset management is fundamental to BIM-enabled project delivery, with client facilities managers involved from a project’s inception in helping to define the employer’s information requirements (EIR) and asset information management (AIM) needs.

PAS 1192-3 covering information management in the operational phase was published in March 2014, and since then advice, standards and protocols covering FM inputs to BIM and beyond have expanded. Deborah highlighted recent useful additions, notably a RICS-developed NRM3 dLCC (digital lifeycle cost) toolkit which aligns BIM with SFG20 maintenance information needs (more about SFG20 here). The MoJ’s BIM2AIM group also recently launched a suite of documents providing clear and concise instruction and guidance on how to define, procure and deliver Level 2 BIM projects (read BIM+ news).

The MoJ’s strategy envisages such tools providing, among other things, much-needed transparency and evidence of value for money to taxpayers, while providing the MoJ with key information to make strategic decisions on its asset portfolio, to innovate, and to continually improve. Surely, many other client organisations will want to reap similar benefits?


 Jacqueline Walpole, Company Product Manager at FSI (FM Solutions)

The second keynote came from FSI’s Jacqueline Walpole. She recalled how many FMs were once a paper-based afterthought: typically, for the client or owner-operator, the completion of a built asset was followed, nine months later, by the handover of a large paper-based archive of information, much of it in paper-based form, some of it already out-of-date. Computer-aided FM (CAFM), therefore, often tended to start from scratch. Digitising design, construction, commissioning and handover processes, she said, opens up the prospect of a digital flow of information into FM (“keeping the BIM live”), achieving operational readiness almost instantly, and Jacqueline highlighted the publication of a new BIFM guide (available here) to achieving such readiness, which includes an EIR template.

The two short keynotes, therefore, promoted readily available toolkits, guides and templates showing how BIM can be applied to support FM, and, in so doing, to enhance the roles of facilities managers. Two of the afternoon’s roundtable workshop sessions also underlined the potential value of data to help managers improve the performance of their assets and to connect their built asset’s data with valuable data held in other systems, but recurring themes about people and silo cultures also surfaced.

Roundtable discussion

Jacqueline Walpole chaired one of the roundtables I attended, getting delegates to consider, first, consider what data might be needed to support asset operations (with a nod to ‘lean’ thinking: “if in doubt, ask the caretaker – what are their ‘must haves’?”), and how some data schemas manage simple issues such as floor-numbering. Secondly, we talked about how in-service performance data might be used to support asset management. Applying analogies including cars and jet engines, we talking about creating and maintaining a built asset’s “service history,” and using the data generated by different building systems’ sensors to improve reliability and energy efficiency. Just as Rolls-Royce routinely collates huge volumes of data from every engine and flight as a basis for meeting its customers’ service level agreements, so facilities managers could collate and analyse built environment data (energy use, temperature, humidity, heating, lighting, equipment use, etc, over time) to support post-occupancy evaluation, optimize lifecycle cost efficiency, and – for ‘repeat clients’ – provide data to help them collaborate with design teams to improve the planning, design, construction and operation of future built assets.

GroupBC’s Steve Crompton led a roundtable pondering trust issues and other reasons why construction project teams have tended to re-key rather than re-use data. Conflicting standards, industry inertia and resistance to major people and process-related changes quickly cropped up. Old attitudes of ‘knowledge is power’ need to be overcome, as does distrust of ‘other people’s data’ (“We don’t trust digital data yet, because we haven’t moved on from distrusting paper information, or stuff off the web”). This workshop also highlighted some of the messages from the 1 June ThinkBIM ‘twilight’ event (link here) – semantic web technologies can help connect data about built assets to other data about the environment and about social aspects of the areas around those built assets. However, security, commercial confidentiality and personal privacy concerns all need to be addressed in selecting what data might be shared and used.

Feedback from all the workshops was shared, after which delegates heard a ‘RetroBIM’ case study from BIM Academy’s Graham Kelly, relating to the compilation of data to support improvement works undertaken at Sydney Opera House in Australia. That a UK-based firm led this project is another indication of how UK BIM experience is prized by clients worldwide, and there is clearly potential for UK FM businesses to similarly become world leaders in applying BIM to FM.

The conference, well chaired by NBS’s Stephen Hamil, showcased some of the standards and guidance now available, talked about the return on investment (ROI), but also – unlike some software vendors mentioned by Graham (“BIM software companies have raised uninformed expectations”) – highlighted it is not a simple technological change. ‘Silo cultures’ and ‘change management’ were two of the key risks on Graham’s project, and they apply equally to the wider adoption of BIM, and not just by the FM community.

Report Released: Enabling BIM through Construction Contracts

Report released by King’s College London

The Centre of Construction Law and Dispute Resolution is proud to release its research report ‘Enabling BIM through Procurement and Contracts’. This report is the culmination of a two-year project working in collaboration with leading individuals and organisations from across the construction industry.

The research was partly grant funded by the Society of Construction Law and the Association of Consultant Architects. The research methodology was agreed by a multi-disciplinary Research Group and comprised reviews of 12 leading BIM projects and confidential interviews with 40 leading practitioners. The research report was also informed by a full day workshop (20 attendees) and a full day conference (115 attendees), following which all those present were issued with a draft of the report and were invited to comment.

You can download the pdf of this research report for free by completing their online form here.  Please note that you will be required to provide your email address as part of this process.

BIM for FM – Are we nearly there yet? Thoughts from #tbim2016 operations and in-use summer conference

On Wednesday 6th July we held our operations and in-use half day #tbim2016 conference which focussed on all things BIM and FM with keynote presentations from Deborah Rowland and Jacqueline Walpole, and an international keynote from Graham Kelly on BIM Academy’s Sydney Opera House project. There were over fifty people in the room but alarmingly only a smattering directly involved in facilities management. With such a vital role to play, #FM is in danger of “falling off a BIM cliff” says Deborah – so how can we spread the message and get more FM’s in the room? Let us know your thoughts.


In the meantime, thinkBIM ambassador, Stephen Hamil has written his summary of the afternoon’s events. This post is reproduced below but originally appeared on Stephen’s excellent Construction Code blog

ThinkBIM – Summer Conference 2016

Yesterday I chaired the ThinkBIM Summer Conference – Soft data, hard landings and asset management.

The theme was looking at stages 7, 0 and 1 of a project. How the needs of the ‘in use’ stage of a project could be considered at the ‘strategy’ and ‘briefing’ stage.

The venue for the ThinkBIM conferences is now the fantastic Squire Paton Boggs offices in Leeds City Centre.

The photograph below shows the lovely new setting that mixes the old with the new in terms of architecture…


A new setting for ThinkBIM

Deborah Rowland was the first speaker. Deborah has experience in facility management in the private sector for Barclays and also as one of the leaders in the public sector through her work with Ministry of Justice.

To find out more about the MoJ story please see the link below:

Deborah also talked highly of the work being done by Andy Green from Faithful+Gould on linking SFG20 maintenance specifications with NRM and Uniclass 2015 codes to help with data flow from design and construction into operations.

Jacqueline Walpole then followed with her keynote. Jacqueline reflected back on the work she was involved in a few years ago with UCL Academy, BAM and Autodesk looking at FM and BIM solutions.

It was interesting listening to Jacqueline’s expertise and seeing how digitised the FM industry already is. The challenge, as always, is to try and get digital information to flow and not to have to start from scratch at certain phases of the project.


A to-scale version of the plan of work that nicely illustrates the importance of the ‘in use’ phase

Following the opening two keynotes, it was time for the roundtables. For this event, I hosted a session looking at how lessons learned from the operation stages of previous projects can feed into an EIR template for future projects.


ThinkBIM Duncan asked for five take-home points from the roundtable. So here we go…

  1. A few years on now since the publication of PAS1192:2 and 3the participants are still not seeing many good examples of EIRs on projects. This includes projects where teams are working for extremely large clients who do many repeat similar buildings. The sample content on the BIM Task Group website and the documents made public from MofJ seem to be the best examples currently:
    – BIM Task Group sample EIR
    – MoJ sample documents
  2. Lessons learned on successes and failures can feed into the EIRs. A specific example given was repeated mistakes on wall covering solutions on multiple retail projects for the same client from different teams  – could be easily avoidable if this information was captured digitally and fed into a single template.
  3. Big clients could make big savings by employing one person to standardised their processes and concentrate on good data kicking off a project. If you are building 12 offices/superstore/schools per year – could you save at least £5K per project by employing someone to get the digital process right?
  4. A solution that allowed information to flow digitally from strategy to brief into the information production phases of a project would be well received. I presented some concepts as to how this could maybe be done through a template plan of work that considered space types and system types and it was well received. For example, a high school will have an assembly hall and washrooms and piling systems and heating systems etc… – having lessons learned captured in a template which then fed into design to ensure a better outcome when the school is used is something that would provide value.
  5. Could the various sector specific BIM4 groupscontribute to sample templates that help their sectors? Sharing knowledge and making the industry more efficient? Many of the BIM groups have been receiving information from the central BIM Task Group over the last five years – is it now time for everyone to show how it can be done?

The final session was from Dr Graham Kelly from BIM Academy. He presented the work they have been doing in Australia with the Sydney Opera House.

This was a fascinating case study – plenty of web links below on how they are connecting many databases via an online 3D model viewer to meet the building’s daily FM needs.

Graham from BIM Academy – using the 3D model, via a webbrowser for the FM of a major building

So all in all – another super ThinkBIM conference. Well done to all of the team that put it together and I look forward to the next one.

To view all of my posts from the ThinkBIM series over the last five years or so click below:

Soft Landings, Hard Data and Asset Management -> details of #tbim2016 summer conference revealed


Operations & In-use half day conference 

Wednesday 6th July 2016

Squire Patton Boggs, Leeds

Trying to find ways to drive wider adoption of digital data across the project lifecycle? Struggling to pass the construction phase benefits to asset management teams? Don’t know where to start with all those project-defining BIM documents? Here at thinkBIM we can help you solve all these issues.

Whether it is working out how to write practical Employers Information Requirements, mastering the BS8536 soft landings process, dealing with the hard facts of transferring data to facilities management teams or the overall management of digital asset data you can’t afford to miss this great opportunity to learn from the experts.

Our summer conference returns to Squire Paton Boggs hosted in their new offices in the Leeds and welcomes back Deborah Rowland to speak about the Government Soft Landings programme as well as an array of industry leading speakers hosting our famous round table discussions.

To get involved join us on 6th July 2016 

at Squire Patton Boggs, 6 Wellington Pl, Leeds LS1 4AP

13:00 – 17:30 (registration from 12:30) 

 Click here to book your place!


GroupBC provides data driven BIM software

We offer a UK hosted secure CDE platform for documents and data, with a 3D model viewer and a money saving process management module

t: 0118 902 8543

Connecting Project Data beyond the site – Thoughts from June #tbim2016

On Wednesday 1st June 2016 we held our second operations and in-use BIM seminar which focussed on the wider application of built environment digital data and how it can be usefully shared and utilised. ThinkBIM steering group member Paul Wilkinson shares his thoughts on the evening below.


Paul WilkinsonOpen Data, BIM and the Semantic Web

Guest Post by Paul Wilkinson. (Please note this post first appeared on Extranet Evolution on 2nd June – link here)

The latest ThinkBIM ‘twilight’ seminar, held in Leeds yesterday (1 June 2016), looked at the wider application of data relating to the built environment. Too many BIM events focus purely on the creation and use of data within a built asset project team; some extend the discussion to look at reuse of data for facility management, operation and maintenance; but few BIM events look at how some BIM and other built environment data might be connected to other data or even made more widely available, perhaps as open data.

Becoming more open

So far as BIM is concerned, the UK government’s 2011 insistence on BIM processes generating “open shareable asset information” is often assumed simply to be about ensuring data is interoperable: capable of being shared between different applications, operating systems and IT hardware. However, the first word is also strongly linked with the UK government’s wider digital agenda – the February 2015 Digital Built Britain strategy (strongly endorsed in the recent 2016 Government Construction Strategy and leading us towards BIM Level 3), for example, is not just about construction, but a fusion of industry strategies relating also to business and professional services, future cities and the information economy.

Discussions about open data are increasingly common, particularly in the UK, where the government has set out to be a world leader in creation and reuse of open data (it recently ranked first in an Open Data Barometer league table of international performance), with data valued as a key part of our national infrastructure (however, in December 2015, the Open Data Institute wrote an open letter to Lord Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, arguing data is not being given “the same importance as our road, railway and energy networks were given in the industrial revolution and are still given now”).

The government’s open data push is being realised both centrally and locally, and is predicated on a belief in greater transparency, in ‘Government as a Platform’, giving tax-payers access to their data and other information derived from government investment in public services and assets. As well as central government’s National Information Infrastructure and, several local authorities have launched open initiatives, some creating dashboards sharing metrics generated from open datasets (look at the London Datastore, Open Glasgow, Leeds Data Mill, Bath:Hacked and Open Data Bristol, for example).

Open is everywhere

In addition to BIM-related open data conversations, I have attended Constructing Excellence meetings about open data (read Ben Pritchard’s blog post); I am part of an EthosVO-led, Innovate UK R&D project (SkillsPlanner) using open linked data as a resource to help address construction skills shortages; and I have led conversations in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations about the need for communicators to be more data-literate, more aware of open data issues and opportunities.

However, yesterday’s ThinkBIM event (held at AQL’s datacentre housed in a former chapel – now the beeping digital heart of Leeds) was more focused on the built environment challenges and opportunities.

  • While commonly regarded as a mapping organisation, Ordnance Survey’s core skills are in data, technology and interconnections. Echoing the Association for Geographical Information’s recent Foresight report (post), Ordnance Survey’s Paul Griffiths described geospatial data as the ‘glue’ connecting data about built assets to other data about the environment and about social aspects of the areas around those built assets. in February 2015, OS launched OpenMap, a new digital map bringing open geospatial data to mobile and web platforms. Then, using examples drawn from Thames Water projects undertaken using the ‘Semantic BIM’ platform provided by SaaS vendor GroupBC (formerly better known as Business Collaborator), Griffiths showed how data about existing building types and heights, flood risks, crime, employment and education could be used to augment existing decision-making tools (“project design need no longer happen in splendid isolation”).
  • ODI Leeds’ Tom Forth showed various examples of data captured by Leeds City Council and made open, including a powerful example of how public building energy use could be cross-referenced with IT data relating to office occupancy to demonstrate when and where energy savings might be made (making “ten million lines of data” open, he said, also helped make that data usable and bridged gaps that previously existed between FM and IT departmental silos). Datasets about empty buildings, housing density and open spaces could also be accessed to inform public debates about housing shortages and planning decisions.
  • GroupBC’s CTO Steve Crompton then provided a ‘RetroBIM’ critique of legacy information, suggesting around 98% of current built asset data was effectively trapped in drawings and documents held in internal file-sharing systems, not lodged in databases where they could be used as a basis for decision-making (“Let’s democratise some of that data, put it in the cloud,” he said). He briefly described how GroupBC’s Semantic BIM platform could provide vital contextual data to support efficient decision-making for planning, designing, constructing and operating built assets.


During the panel discussion, it was clear security, commercial confidentiality and personal privacy concerns all need to be addressed in selecting what data might be made open (the Open Data Institute has a useful ‘data spectrum’ diagram showing the continuum from closed to open data). But Tom Forth stressed many bodies currently hold huge volumes of dormant data that could be made open (surely, such data will only have value if someone does something with it?).

Government departments are already opening up some of their data reserves so that they can be explored and exploited. In June 2015, DEFRA, one of the most data-rich departments in Whitehall, opened up thousands of datasets so that they could be more widely used to improve the quality of our natural environment.

It was also clear that the industry currently known as construction is still at an early stage in not just its BIM journey (the BIM Level 2 deadline passed less than two months ago) but also in its open data journey. To re-use an argument I’ve given in recent lectures and conference keynotes, we have only just started to move from “common paper environments” to “common data environments” – and open data is part of the more long-term BIM Level 3 picture (is it just a coincidence that the ‘semantic web’ is sometimes referred to as Web 3.0).

groupbclogoGroupBC: semantic BIM differentiation

I speak regularly to the main SaaS collaboration vendors active in the UK, and GroupBC is the only one actively developing semantic web capabilities. That is not to say that rivals aren’t thinking about integration between their platforms and other information systems – APIs are a key part of Viewpoint’s roadmap, I heard at last week’s customer summit, for example – but GroupBC is pioneering the use of linked data to build new products and enhance the capabilities of existing tools.

Its ‘Semantic BIM’ technology moves beyond the typical uses of BIM for visualisation, clash detection, construction sequencing, etc, and opens up a potentially huge web of related data, from ‘location intelligence’, to data shared by or licensed from other commercial or public bodies, and to data held in internal corporate systems. BIM, therefore, becomes just part of a bigger built asset data picture – the semantic web allows teams to exploit far richer seams of data, potentially unearthing vital ‘nuggets’ of information for accurate and timely decision-making.

Group BC have also written an excellent post on their own blog about their work with Semantic Web – please check it out at the link below.


A selection of the best tweets and images can be found at the storify below. Please keep checking back as presentations will also be available shortly.

ThinkBIM’s next half-day conference, focused on BIM for operation and in-use, is at Squire Patton Boggs new offices in Leeds on Wednesday 6 July 2016 – more details to follow.

CIAT Professional Development Day


Welcome to the second of our days of learning and opportunities for professional development that the Yorkshire Region of CIAT is hosting in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University. We continue to make freely available value added presentations given by knowledge rich presenters on topical subject areas within the construction industry; a collection of which we consider you could not find anywhere else.


Building on the unprecedented success of our inaugural event in June 2015, this year we have managed to secure the services of two speakers whose names are instantly recognisable as major players within the realm of UK building design and construction.


Peter Caplehorn will open the day with his Keynote presentation on the challenges that face the profession and the wider industry. If you have heard Peter speak before, or even if you haven’t, this is not one to miss. To get the day back on track after lunch Richard Saxon will offer his unique experienced brand in presenting how Building Information Modelling will be influencing a Digital Built Britain as we work towards level 3.


The full programme can be found at the following link


Our thanks go to our event supporters, RIBA, CIOB, RICS, CIBSE, CABE, ICE, and Centre for Knowledge Exchange at Leeds Beckett University. We also offer a big thank you to the event sponsors, without whom it could not happen; Knauf Insulation, Graphisoft, Beattie Passiv, LABC, Minerva Appointments, Leeds Beckett University and CIAT Yorkshire.




Please book via the link below;


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